Saturday, October 6, 2012

A helpful question to your audience

Does anyone have any questions so far?

If I am giving a seminar I try to ask the audience this at several points in the talk, particularly if there have been no questions so far.
Even if no one has a question is shows them you are open to them, and will keep the audience more engaged because they may make more of an effort to think of questions.


  1. I think I've commented exactly once on your blog, but wanted to say that I enjoy reading it greatly and look at it on a regular basis. Don't get the lack of comments from the 500-odd lurkers like me get you down.

    I realize that your blog reflects your specific interests, of course, but a list/discussion of what you think are the important theoretical issues in modern condensed matter theory on a broader scale (e.g. topological insulators, ADS-CMT, condensed matter models for quantum computation ..) would certainly be interesting to me and perhaps to a larger audience?

  2. Since there's two posts of commenters commenting on the lack of comments, I will give my 2c.

    I think it's so specialised that few people would be willing to comment on any particular post. So while people obviously find it interesting, unless it's their specific area, it would be rare for them to have an opinion they particularly wanted to put out there.

    For instance, I'm positive that if you counted the comment rate for teaching/talk tips/career advice type tags (ie. much more general sorts of topics) you'd find it's much much higher.

    But I think blogs like this are great resources for young scientists, I really value it. In fact, I'm not aware of any other of its calibre. I wish there were, I'd read them all.

    Keep up the excellent blog!

  3. Thanks for the kind words and encouragement.
    I am not too discouraged by the lack of comments. However, I still would like it to generate a bit more discussion, partly because I think that would be good for the community.

    I will think about Gautam's request for a discussion of the important topics/challenges for condensed matter theory. My immediate response is that I cannot get very excited about his list of some possible topics. They are certainly fashionable ones but I remain skeptical that they will be important in one or two decades. A brief earlier post mentioned the problem of fashions:

  4. Not to just refer back to more of your previous posts. But I vaguely remember something like "Outstanding open questions in physics" at some point.